How many disposable things do you use on a daily basis? Drink bottles, paper plates, plastic utensils, plastic bags, styrofoam cups, paper towels, snack packaging, sandwich bags . . . And how many of those things to you throw away as opposed to recycling?
Some disposable items are hard to avoid, but it’s not hard to at least reduce your environmental impact, along with the impact on your bank account.
1) Buy a reusable water bottle! According to the Mayo Clinic, humans need 2-3 liters of water every day, that’s at least 3 20 ounce bottles! Or more than a THOUSAND bottles per year, just for a single person. Even at $1 a bottle, that would be a substantial part of money being thrown away. Granted no one (I hope) gets every bit of their daily serving of water from a plastic bottle, still more than 50 billion bottles of water are sold in America each year. Most of these bottles end up in landfills. So, just by buying a reusable water bottle, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars and prevent hundreds of bottles from ending up in our trash.
2) Buy a water filter! Water filters are great and cheap way to make sure you and your family always have great tasting water for drinking. There are different varieties of filters, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that works well for you. Plus, some water bottles even come with their own filters now, so no matter how much you’re on the go, you won’t be without filtered water.
3) When you have to use a plastic bottle (or aluminum can, paper cup, etc…) make sure to recycle it! There’s almost no excuse these days for not recycling anything that can be recycled, many companies provide convenient recycling bins or drop off locations. Just look around, if it’s not obvious ask around.
4) Use a reusable coffee cup when possible, it’s also far more convenient since you won’t have to worry about your hand burning through the paper cup.
5) Cut down on the use of other disposable utensils and dinnerware. Big family picnic in the park? Sure you don’t want to lug around a heavy dinner set, but be aware of how much stuff you’re sending to the dump afterwards. Maybe you don’t have to take out the trash when you’re done, but that doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for how much you produce. The same rules apply here, if you can’t reuse it, recycle it and try to produce as little waste as necessary.
6) Paper towels are great, especially when wiping down the inside of pet cage. I definitely wouldn’t want to reuse that towel again, but you don’t have to use a new paper towel every time you dry your hands, clean the sink or wipe down the counters. Remember those cloth towels in the drawer, they work too. And you can use them again later which will also save you money in the long run.
I’m sure you’re getting the idea here, even lunches can be packed in reusable containers. In fact, I’m sure that sandwich will be less likely to end up squashed if you use a reusable plastic container instead of a baggy. Heck, you can even break it off with those pop bottles and cans, even if you don’t want to give up your soda drinking habits, new companies like Sodastream USA make it possible to even make your own pop! (Without HFCS or Aspartame!) Once again you save money, and since you’re reusing the bottles to make your next bottle of pop you reduce the amount of waste going to a landfill.
Many more things can also be recycled these days; stores recycle grocery bags, and companies like teracycle also recycle drink pouches, snack wrappers, cell phones and more! Yes disposable is sometimes more convenient, but once you throw it in that trash can, it doesn’t just disappear. It could end up in a landfill for hundreds of years and soon we’re just going to run out of room. Take into consideration the entire lifespan of the things you buy. Where and how it was manufactured, and what’s going to happen to it when you’re done with it are just as important as how you’re going to use it. If that’s not convincing enough (though it should be), just think of the money you’ll save! It doesn’t get any better than the old adage;
REDUCE ~ REUSE ~ RECYCLE